October 19, 2014
The brain uses a quarter of the body’s entire energy supply, yet only accounts for about two percent of the body’s mass. So how does this unique organ receive nutrients and, perhaps more importantly, rid itself of wastes? New research suggests it has to do with sleep.
Back in 1942, we averaged almost 8 hours of sleep a night — now that’s down to 6.8. (Seven to 9 hours per night are what’s generally recommended.) For a list of 25 more unfortunate risks of partial and total sleep deprivation go here.
October 5, 2014
Scientists have photographed the largest gathering of Pacific walruses ever recorded, on a beach in northern Alaska.
It’s hardly the first big walrus gathering to be documented. But scientists say the size of the gatherings are growing as climate change melts Arctic sea ice, depriving walruses of their sunning platforms of choice.
As the ocean heats up due to global warming, Arctic sea ice has been locked in a downward spiral. Since the late 1970s, the ice has retreated by 12 percent per decade. Learn more here.
September 27, 2014
This is Rhodinia fugax, an animal sometimes called the Squeaking Silkmoth. That’s because when you give it a gentle squeeze, it will sqeak adorably.
September 24, 2014
How much do you know about the world? This video demonstrates that you have a high statistical chance of being quite wrong about what you think you know.
September 22, 2014
When it comes to the party that is planet Earth, we might need to plan for a few extra guests, according to scientists. A new statistical projection concludes that the world population is unlikely to level off during the 21st century, leaving the planet to deal with as many as 13 billion human inhabitants—4 billion of those in Africa—by 2100.
Learn more here.
September 14, 2014
A woman has reached the age of 24 without anyone realising she was missing a large part of her brain. The case highlights just how adaptable the organ is.
The discovery was made when the woman was admitted to hospital complaining of dizziness and nausea. Doctors did a CAT scan and immediately identified the source of the problem – her entire cerebellum was missing. The space where it should be was empty of tissue. Instead it was filled with cerebrospinal fluid, which cushions the brain and provides defence against disease.
Scan showing no cerebellum (top). Normal brain (bottom).
The cerebellum’s main job is to control voluntary movements and balance, and it is also thought to be involved in our ability to learn specific motor actions and speak. Problems in the cerebellum can lead to severe mental impairment, movement disorders, epilepsy or a potentially fatal build-up of fluid in the brain. However, in this woman, the missing cerebellum resulted in only mild to moderate motor deficiency, and mild speech problems such as slightly slurred pronunciation. Learn more here.
September 5, 2014
They just keep getting bigger. The latest dinosaur to be discovered was 26 metres long and seven times as heavy as Tyrannosaurus rex . Named Dreadnoughtus schrani by the team who found it, the bones belonged to the largest known land animal whose size can be reliably calculated. And it wasn’t even fully grown.
The 77-million-year-old Dreadnoughtus skeleton was found in south-west Patagonia, Argentina, in 2005, and has taken several years to analyse. While other giants from Patagonia are known from a handful of bones, almost half of the Dreadnoughtus skeleton has been recovered. What’s more, the fossilised bones are in such good condition – even revealing where muscles attached – that the skeleton could provide unprecedented insights into the biology, movement and evolution of the group of huge plant-eating dinosaurs it belonged to, called the titanosaurian sauropods. Learn more here, here, here, here or here.
September 2, 2014
Daniel Reisel studies the brains of criminal psychopaths (and mice). And he asks a big question: Instead of warehousing these criminals, shouldn’t we be using what we know about the brain to help them rehabilitate? Put another way: If the brain can grow new neural pathways after an injury … could we help the brain re-grow morality?
August 28, 2014
Most people think their intelligence is fixed. The science says it’s not. It starts with knowing you can learn anything.
This all relates to Carol Dweck’s ‘Growth Mindset’ theory. You can explore more at Khan Academy here.
Carol explains her theory here:
This all relates to the following great video …
August 21, 2014
Contrary to conventional wisdom, it isn’t just money. But it’s not exactly joy either. It seems that most of us thrive by making constant progress and feeling a sense of purpose.